Bear Valley Ski-O

Sunday, Jan. 30, 2000

by Tony Pinkham, 650-969-5320

The Bear Valley Ski-O will feature full USOF-length courses (nearly double the length of past courses), using an upgraded version of the Bear Valley map originally made by Mike Poulsen. Each course uses ski trails, so nobody has the advantage of following someone else's ski tracks, but the courses are differentiated by orienteering and skiing skills.

The beginner (White) and advanced beginner (Yellow) courses are on beginning ski trails with minimal route choice (more route choice and distance for the advanced beginner course). The intermediate and advanced courses are a motala of three laps. Intermediate orienteers do just the first lap (Orange course) on intermediate trails. Short-distance advanced orienteers do the first and second lap (second lap is the Green course on easier expert trails). Long distance advanced orienteers do all three laps (last lap is the Black'n'Blue course on difficult expert trails).

Jan. 25 Update

Due to a late snow fall, not all trails required for the Green and Blue courses have been groomed yet. If the trails for the Green course have not been groomed by the event day, we will offer challenging Score-O courses (medium and long courses and times) as an alternative. Either way, you'll get very challenging orienteering courses to ski.

There will also be a Start-O course for young children, hopefully utilizing a new more adventuresome area.

Never tried Ski-O? It's easy! You use a map, compass, and cross-country skis (or snowshoes) to find controls on point-to-point courses. We show you how to do it in free beginner clinics, and then you do the easy course on your own or in a group. If you finish early, do a more challenging course to increase your fun. We have courses for young children, beginners, advanced beginners, intermediates, advanced, and expert ski orienteers. After doing your course, buy a warm drink at the cafe and compare what you did with others while watching competitors race in to finish laps, pick up maps for other laps, and race off for increasingly difficult courses.


Fees and registration are easy and painless. Go to the trail head, register at the Ski Orienteering table, pay for your trail pass, and then ski 200 meters to the start/finish/refreshment/spectator area. There are no extra fees for orienteering (BAOC gets a portion of each trail pass we sell). Adults pay $17 for the day. Seniors and children pay reduced fees. No extra fees for groups. Compass rentals are $1. You can rent skis in the Bear Valley cross-country ski shop (call 209-753-2834 for information).

Starts are between 10:00 am and noon. You get up to four hours to complete your course, but you must finish by 4:00 pm.

The Courses

Chris Shirley and Matthias Kohler are designing the intermediate and advanced courses, which are up to two times the length of courses in past years, so they meet USOF ski orienteering guidelines. This helps prepare ski orienteers for the competitive challenges that await them in US and international orienteering events...perhaps even the 2006 Olympics, where ski orienteering might be introduced. Whatever your skill level, we'll have a course that will challenge and develop your skills.
Course        Description (tentative)
------------  --------------------------------------
Start-O       Very easy course for kids within sight
              of parents.

White         Easy navigation and skiing for beginners (2km).
              All you need to do is take a beginner's
              clinic and know how the basics of skiing.

Yellow        Easy skiing with route choices for
              advanced beginners (3.5km).
              If you have plenty of strength after doing
              the White course, you can do this course.

Orange        Intermediate trails with route choices (~8km).
              If you normally ski intermediate
              trails and have some experience reading
              orienteering maps, you should be able to
              do this course.

Green         Orange course plus 8km of easier expert
              trails and fast route choices (total ~16km).
              Everyone who did long courses in previous
              years at Bear Valley should be able to do
              this course.

Black'n'Blue  Green course (including the Orange course)
(Blue)        plus ~8km of expert trails with demanding
              route choices (total ~24km). Many might try
              but few will be able to compete on this course.
              You must be able to ski expert trails with 
              steep hills.
The Orange, Green, and Black'n'Blue courses are a motala. Everyone does the first lap, which is an intermediate lap. Green and Black'n'Blue participants continue on to a second lap on trails requiring more advanced skiing and route-choice skills. A few expert ski orienteers will do the third lap for the Black'n'Blue course.

What do you do if you encounter a hill too steep for your skiing skills? Do what Wyatt Riley does - take your skis off and run or walk until you feel it is safe to ski again. It is legal to do that in ski orienteering so long as you carry your skis with you.

Awards will be given to the top three male and female finishers for each course as soon as the placings are known (probably around 2:00 pm).


Take Highway 5 or 99 to Highway 4, and then drive east about 70 miles to the Bear Valley Cross Country Ski Resort. The resort is just 120 miles from Livermore and Sacramento. Drive up and ski on Saturday, and then ski orienteer (real skiing) on Sunday.


Reserve your rooms early, especially if you want to stay in or very near Bear Valley. Use the BayOnet listserv ( to find roommates for cabins or large suites.
Bear Valley  (100 meters to 1 mile from registration)

Base Camp Lodge
   $27/person or $65/room for 2 night minimum. 209-753-6556 
Bear Valley Lodge
Tamarak Pines
   1 room for 2-3 people, $90 to $105. 209-753-2080
Tamarak Resort
   call early, $75 for 2-person rooms. 209-753-2001
Bear Valley Real Estate
   cabin rentals. 209-753-2334

Arnold  (26-mile drive to Bear Valley)

Timberline Lodge
   $59 to $150/night for 2-8 people. 209-795-1053
Ebbetts Pass Lodge
   $64/night for 2 night minimum, kitchenettes. 209-795-1563
Mountain Retreat
   $150 for one night or $125/night for two plus nights 
   for up to 8 people in 1100-1200 square-foot
   chateaus with kitchens. Includes use of indoor pool,
   etc. Call Cindy at RCI Timeshares, 925-838-7780.
Fry Vacation Rentals
   cabin rentals. 209-795-4094
Powderbears Accomodations
   cabin rentals. 209-753-2136
Lodge at Manuel Mill
   $102-$105 for 2-person rooms. 209-795-2622

Angels Camp  (47-mile drive to Bear Valley)

Angels Inn Motel
   ~$65/night. 209-736-4242
Gold Country Inn
   ~$50/night. 209-736-4611

Ski-O Equipment

Interested in purchasing the Nordenmark Ski-O mapholder? Berman's Orienteering Supply carries them ($70), and I'm sure Scarborough Orienteering can order them. To reach these equipment providers:

Scarborough Orienteering, 510-530-3050
Berman's Orienteering Supply, 617-868-7416